Children, Health & Nature – Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery Leads a New Movement in Kentucky
For the staff at Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, working in the outdoors and being connected to nature is a truly “natural” fit. Whether it involves working in a raceway to grade fish or taking a group of students on a stream hike, Wolf Creek personnel stay connected with nature each and every day in their daily tasks.
With the growing concern over today’s youth being connected with the outdoors, Wolf Creek spearheaded a new movement by hosting a grass root level forum on the health benefits of getting kids outdoors on Wednesday, August 6th.
Inviting potential stakeholders, including physicians, health department workers, teachers, elected officials and more, the hatchery hosted the 25+ crowd of attendees as they listened to two very experienced and enthusiastic speakers: Jane Eller, Executive Director for the Kentucky Environmental Education Council and Margo Riggs, a career epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia.
Judy Toppins, Regional Outreach Coordinator for the Fisheries Program, also spoke on the Service’s efforts to connect children with nature. The hatchery also made available a variety of materials, including various website listings, hand outs, booths focusing on a variety of topics such as the Biologist-in-Training (BiT) Program, the National Institute of Health’s We Can! Initiative and the Kentucky Association of Environmental Education and a wealth and variety of EE centered books in the hatchery’s gift shop.
Each participant also received a copy of the “Get ‘Em Outside” Rx pads recently developed by Judy Toppins, Amanda Patrick and a team of other partners in Kentucky.
Following the previous evening’s momentum, Wolf Creek NFH Project Leader James Gray along with Amanda and Judy attended a follow-up meeting at Mammoth Cave NP, to the first ever Federal Inter-Agency Meeting that Wolf Creek organized back in January 2008.
The topic for this meeting was the health benefits of connecting children with nature, and during the gathering, Wolf Creek was strongly praised for their efforts in helping to spearhead the effort of educating people of all backgrounds on the importance of getting kids outdoors.
At the August 7th meeting, a task force was formed to develop and organize a campaign with a specific outdoor interest in better educating audiences across the state on the health benefits of getting outdoors. Environmental Education/Outreach Specialist Amanda Patrick will be on that task force.
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